Monday, September 30, 2013

Windy old Melbourne Town

September always seems windy. My daughter was born in September, and I remember the trees thrashing outside the window as I walked the flat, my mother sitting on the couch timing contractions.

Since we got back from Hong Kong, we've been pretty busy. Princess had her wisdom teeth out last Thursday so I've been nurse: dispensing medications from the infirmary (a kind of table thing in the hallway), making soft food, taking her ice packs, making her swish salt rinses, mashing food, heating up tinned Campbell's soup. That sort of thing. The swelling is going down but she's still got a bit of bruising. I was a bit anxious because she'd never had anything other than a local anaesthetic before and she gets heart palpitations (which I again need to get checked out by a cardiologist) BUT it was all okay, and I could put away the catastrophising scenes of doom that filled my head as I sat in the waiting room. The dentist had also said one of the teeth had a hooked root and was perilously close to a large nerve in her jaw. There a no signs that it's not gone perfectly well.

It's the second week of the school holidays (third for P) which means no teaching for me and lots of writing time (ordinarily, and the last couple of days I've managed a lot of writing.) I've been walking the dog, continuing my healthy with my food. Day before yesterday I chopped off my hair. It had grown very long, down my back, and while I kind of liked the wild woman effect a side ponytail gave me, when I got up Saturday morning with what other people call bed hair and I call playdough hair, I realised the ends were just so ratty and all uneven (because I have this thing, you see, where I cut my own hair) and so I went into the bathroom and pulled it forwards and chopped it off on either side. So it's just past my shoulders, or on them, a long bob and a bit hacked at the back. Good for summer.

We finished Season One of Orange is the New Black. It is fucking amazing. Alex, have you managed to see any of it? I recommend moving it to the top of your list right now. We are pottering through West Wing, up to about early Season 5. And we re-borrowed Sopranos from Clokey's sister on the weekend and so I'm watching that (again, for me) with Princess.

Seriously, too much goodness.

Clokes and I are watching Big Brother but that's all I'm watching on tv. Did not re-invest in either X-Factor or any other reality tv. The other day caught five minutes of Winners and Losers. Oh my god. How can people watch it? It's so saccharine. Reminds me of what little I've seen of that Asher Keddie show, but much worse. The state of television is terrible and people moan about reality tv?

Reading: am reading various books. I am struggling to settle and go deep. Am flicking between different ones, including reading printed-out articles, interviews all to do with writing (The Paris Review series of interviews are amazing, if you like long-form and even writers you don't read, they are always insightful and interesting.) They go back to the '50s man, and you can search by decade or by person's name. Sometimes I think it's the best thing on the Internet.

I have started Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries, which is on the shortlist for The Booker Prize. She's twenty-seven, it's her second book and I hate her. She uses an interesting form in the book which is partly why I'm reading it; partly too I'm reading it because it's so frigging long, more than 800 pages and I'm curious to know how she sustains it well enough to be shortlisted in such a prestigious prize; alsoam curious to see how's she's done it at all. I also bought the shortest on the shortlist, Colm Toibin's The Testament of Mary.

Writing: over the weekend I wrote a long piece to submit to a journal that has a theme of SEX. I don't write sexy stuff but I'm a sex ed teacher so thought to angle it from there. We shall see. Then this morning I rejigged a piece I'd done on gadgetry and my hate for Apple products, and incorporated some commentary on the hate people have for Jonathan Franzen (and to a lesser extent, Tim Winton.) Not sure what I'll do with that, it's pretty ranty. And THEN I got an email last Tuesday from one journal to say they wanted to print something I'd submitted (it's a creative non fiction piece, kind of) and then last night, an email from a small publishing house who want to include a poem I sent them in their annual collection of stories. So. A few little things happening.

My big writing thing: I have to get my second manuscript to my agent early November. She wants to get it to publishers I think in February. They are keen to see it which is good but so much pressure because what if it's terrible?

Let's just look at this for a moment to calm down:  Putting time in perspective

51 comments:

Alex said...

Hey, good to hear from you. Have acquired Orange but not yet watched it. Putting it at the top of the list now. Might get to see it on the weekend. Maybe. If I'm lucky.

I think there is something profoundly wrong with TV in this country. I told you before about watching "The Project" and thinking it was like news for kids or intellectually impaired adults. Everything is so ... dumb nowadays. And it's not like I'm some sort of intellectual snob. At least, I don't think I am.

I'm curious to know how she sustains it well enough to be shortlisted in such a prestigious prize

Prizes and awards. Meh. I don't think it means anything, regardless of how prestigious it is. Obama got a fucking peace prize.

My mum and brothers have all had wisdom teeth pulled, so I know what that can be like. Recently, I went to the dentist for the first time in decades (that I can remember). He looked and took x-rays and looked again, and concluded my teeth were miraculously perfect; so it seems I have dodged a bullet.

Send Princess my best wishes.

sarah toa said...

I went to a wedding yesterday and it rained and rained until we were dancing in gumboots and swinging umbrellas.
I reckon I was the only one without gumboots or an umbrella. I had a fur coat, and smelled like a dog in the rain. But the band just rocked.

Anyhoo
fecking wisdom teeth. Mine go up and down with the moon. About every six months I teethe, dribble, get cranky and cry. Its been going on for years now. It hurts. I identify with my teething red-cheeked grandie who has sprouted teeth proper at nine months. At 43 I'm wondering why I spawned these dysfunctional teeth. But when they go down and my gums close over, I forget all about them.

Melba said...

So with the wet fur coat that smells doggie and the teeth that move with the full moon, what are you saying Sarah?!

Sounds like a cool wedding.

Alex, you are lucky to have such perfect teeth. Mine are ok but have had lots of orthodontic work etc. Actually mine aren't okay, I've had two root canals and crowns. What am I saying? But they are fine at the mo. TOUCH WOOD.

Alex said...

Lucky, indeed. Hope it stays that way.

Sarah, I didn't realise wisdom teeth behaved like that. Perhaps there is something lycanthropic going on, no?

And I just realised from your post, Melbs, that Princess has had this dental work done around the same time as her birthday. Poor bub.

I'm with you on cutting hair at home, too. How fuckin' expensive are hair-cuts these days. I think I'll get the hair clippers out soon. One good buzz should do me until the end of summer.

And back on stupid TV; I listened to another doco on the Ohio slave girls this evening. Another British one. It was worse than the first one. It had this ridiculous music playing the whole time and "featured" a bunch of "experts" (who had never met the girls) explaining what they went through as if they themselves had actually been there. Talk about fuckin' aggravating. My advice: avoid these type of docos like the plague.

And what about them crazy yanks at the moment, eh?

sarah toa said...

It won't be terrible Melba. It will be written. x

sarah toa said...

I cut my own hair a few months ago and it still won't settle down. Curly hair must be chopped at, not feathered and blowdried and pinned down by a freaked-out hairdresser who's just realised she's given me a poodle.
Anyway, whenever I see my shadow over the last few weeks, there are two horns sticking out of my head.

Speaking of - Ha! Like both your lycanthropy comments.

squib said...

You are very lovely, Melbs. I'm not very Florence Nightingale at all. I get very aggravated by family members with crutches especially although I think I will need them soon as one of my knees is clapped out. Will say NHS makes Aust Medicare look ace. It takes 15 days to see a GP here, bloody hell. And the roads are all shot to pieces

Did you ever catch the TV series Fresh Meat?

Well done re: creative non-fiction and poem and good luck with the rewrite although you absolutely do not need it as you are going to knock their socks off. Yes

Hi there, Alex and Sarah

Melba said...

Thanks Alex, she was very philosophic about it. She's a good kid. Birthday was before we went to Hongkers anyway so the trip was I suppose a buffer zone. She has plenty to be happy about! She's healed well, off the antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, able to eat pretty much everything now apart from sharp crunchy stuff. Doesn't think the stitches have dissolved/dropped out yet but swelling is done, bruising gone, all good. She didn't get as bad as I did. I had 4 out when in my twenties and I got black eyes. The dentist did it like keyhole surgery. Instead of pulling the hole tooth from gum bed - traumatic! - he made an incision and then slowly broke up the tooth into small bits and removed. Less invasive I guess, or less trauma to the jaw and face.

I don't know what's happening with the US. I haven't read anything about it other than headlines. I know the government's shut down, is it when supply is blocked or threatened to be blocked here? A la the Whitlam time? Is it about healthcare? It is crazy that they don't want healthcare but someone once explained it to me - an American - that because the country was settled by people fleeing what they saw as persecution, from government control, Americans don't want government's telling them what to do (hence the gun thing) even if it is something that would benefit them (the healthcare thing). It's such a perversity of thinking.

OH I do avoid StupidTV. Don't worry.

Thanks Sarah! xx I love the idea of your shadow having horns. LOVE IT. You're also lucky to be in a place where there are shadows in winter. Fuck. At least today Melbs has pulled some sunshine out.

squib! I'm not very nursey I do have a problem with people who are sick but not really, my mother has a caved-in knee and uses a stick. It's ALWAYS sliding off walls and clashing to the ground; in houses, in cafes, in restaurants. That's fucking annoying! When people get colds and then keep walking around without warm enough clothes and then they get chest coughs, I have no sympathy (my husband and her daughter). But my Princess is my Princess and I can put aside my fundamental lack of empathy to look after her. Then after taking a bowl of soup into her I don't linger; I run back to my desk to the writing.

This is probably because I have a strong constitution, I am a workhorse and have amazing stamina and because of the VitaminD haven't had a sniffle in two years (btw, did the hiatus, have restarted on 2000 a night. Will get levels tested at the Alfred as Suze suggested in about 6 months or so. That'll be my yearly tests.)

squib that's bad about the GP, terrible. And the roads, here they are *always* doing work on them, doing unnecessary stuff to use up their budgets and it's annoying but at least the surfaces are reasonable.

Thanks about the edits. I'm half way through a marked-up hard copy. It was 112K words which is too much. I have slashed and burned and am interested to see what it's come down do. It's a bit of a saga but maybe it just has to be long. I just know pubs don't like long especially not for first novel. Which hopefully this one will be.

Melba said...

Thanks Alex, she was very philosophic about it. She's a good kid. Birthday was before we went to Hongkers anyway so the trip was I suppose a buffer zone. She has plenty to be happy about! She's healed well, off the antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, able to eat pretty much everything now apart from sharp crunchy stuff. Doesn't think the stitches have dissolved/dropped out yet but swelling is done, bruising gone, all good. She didn't get as bad as I did. I had 4 out when in my twenties and I got black eyes. The dentist did it like keyhole surgery. Instead of pulling the hole tooth from gum bed - traumatic! - he made an incision and then slowly broke up the tooth into small bits and removed. Less invasive I guess, or less trauma to the jaw and face.

I don't know what's happening with the US. I haven't read anything about it other than headlines. I know the government's shut down, is it when supply is blocked or threatened to be blocked here? A la the Whitlam time? Is it about healthcare? It is crazy that they don't want healthcare but someone once explained it to me - an American - that because the country was settled by people fleeing what they saw as persecution, from government control, Americans don't want government's telling them what to do (hence the gun thing) even if it is something that would benefit them (the healthcare thing). It's such a perversity of thinking.

OH I do avoid StupidTV. Don't worry.

Thanks Sarah! xx I love the idea of your shadow having horns. LOVE IT. You're also lucky to be in a place where there are shadows in winter. Fuck. At least today Melbs has pulled some sunshine out.

squib! I'm not very nursey I do have a problem with people who are sick but not really, my mother has a caved-in knee and uses a stick. It's ALWAYS sliding off walls and clashing to the ground; in houses, in cafes, in restaurants. That's fucking annoying! When people get colds and then keep walking around without warm enough clothes and then they get chest coughs, I have no sympathy (my husband and her daughter). But my Princess is my Princess and I can put aside my fundamental lack of empathy to look after her. Then after taking a bowl of soup into her I don't linger; I run back to my desk to the writing.

This is probably because I have a strong constitution, I am a workhorse and have amazing stamina and because of the VitaminD haven't had a sniffle in two years (btw, did the hiatus, have restarted on 2000 a night. Will get levels tested at the Alfred as Suze suggested in about 6 months or so. That'll be my yearly tests.)

squib that's bad about the GP, terrible. And the roads, here they are *always* doing work on them, doing unnecessary stuff to use up their budgets and it's annoying but at least the surfaces are reasonable.

Thanks about the edits. I'm half way through a marked-up hard copy. It was 112K words which is too much. I have slashed and burned and am interested to see what it's come down do. It's a bit of a saga but maybe it just has to be long. I just know pubs don't like long especially not for first novel. Which hopefully this one will be.

magical_m said...

Ooooh, I can sympathise with Princess - I had my wisdom teeth removed when I was 13 before I got my braces on, because the x-rays showed they were growing in sideways. Typical. I looked like Eric Stoltz in Mask for almost 2 weeks and refused to eat anything other than chocolate thickshakes.

I was living in DC during the shutdown of 1995. It wasn't fun. At all. The thing that makes me really angry is that it really hurts the people who make minimum wage working the gift shop at the zoo or kids who are on federally-funded clinical trials for new cancer treatments, while Boehner and his evil GOPers are still getting paid for essentially having a temper tantrum over not being able to get their way. Infuriating.

I have to get around to watching OITNB... right now I'm cheering the return of my faves - Parks & Rec and Scandal - and enjoying two newbies - Agents of SHIELD and Trophy Wife (which you might enjoy... Bradley Whitford, Malin Akerman and Marcia Gay Harden).

Coffee in the next couple of weeks?

xx

Alex said...

Sarah, I think there is a beast inside you, trying to get out.

Yeah Melbs, I believe it is like the Whitlam time, only they don't have a governor-general to call emergency elections, so everything* just stagnates. And yes, it's about blocking health-care***. That thing about Americans being against government because of what you said; I think it's like Aussies who think Australia has a rebelious, anti-class, anti-authoritarian culture because we're a society founded by convicts. It completely neglects that most of the non-aboriginees who settled here came for the gold rush. However, if you do believe the convict narrative, you're probably also more likely to get a tattoo of Ned Kelly, drape yourself in a flag, and go glass some vaguely middle-eastern looking cunt.

M_M, from what I understand, the GOP and the Democrats are now largely funded and controlled by the same corporations**, making a lot of American politics just-for-show. It seems however, that a small group of Billionaires has essentially "bought" a faction (Tea Party) within the GOP, and there is now a civil war between them and the old corporate-owned GOP.

*I've heard a couple of people say that if the government shutdown involved standing down air-traffic controllers so that all corporate jets were grounded, the problem would be resolved in under and hour.

**For more about corporate ownership of American politics, I advise looking up speeches by Lawrence Lessig, and checking out this presentation by that Turkish bloke who was going ballistic in that video I linked to that one time.

***Hey Squib, sorry to hear about the knee (and the shitty health-care (and roads)). Was it on account of the running (the knee, not the roads)? 

I started watching Orange tonight. Will finish it tomorrow, I'm guessing. Liking it, but not loving it so far. I don't like the protagonist. I don't like her in any of her flash-backs and I don't like any of her friends and family. Especially, I don't like that she hasn't had to make any really tough moral choices or compromises. It feels like she is being "kept clean" so we will be on her side, see things through her eyes and identify with her. I don't identify with her at all. I do however like the other prison characters. The predatory staff add a suitable element of danger that almost makes up for the fact that there doesn't seem to be that much threat of physical harm.

M_M, I haven't seen Parks & Rec, but I know some people rave. Is it that good? I don't like many pure comedies. Has it got some drama in it too? I'm not familiar with the other stuff you mentioned.

Also have not heard of Fresh Meat, Squib. It good?

jo_blue said...

Hey there Melba,
I love your hair!

Glad all went well with Princess's teeth. These things can be harrowing. I've been lucky so far and can only imagine. I had only one removed by a dentist in Malaysia and couldn't open my jaw more than 5mm for a month. Great way to lose some pounds!

I have also just finished OITNB and can't wait for season 2. In some ways, I can relate to the main character - she thinks she's so nice and wants everyone to like her, but has that moment when she has to face herself. I, however, would never have lasted that long in prison! Did you know Red used to be a Starfleet Captain in Star Trek: Voyager? I keep waiting for her to tell her people to fire on the Hirogen so they can keep on with their journey back to the Alpha Quadrant!

Congratulations on the writerly achievements. Small things lead to bigger and much bigger things. You know what you want, it will come to you because you are doing all the right things to make it happen. The best of luck for your next manuscript - and it won't be terrible, that I know. Seriously, I don't think it's a matter of IF, but WHEN, you get published.

xx

Alex said...

Hey Jo, my OITNB marathon continues; and those who have not seen it, but plan to, should probably skip this comment.

When you say "that moment when she has to face herself", do you mean a specific moment in the show, or just her ordeal overall? The only time I really liked the character (so far) was when she was in SHU. I thought some really meaty character development would come from that, and then I got disappointed when it didn't, really. Most of what I'm getting from her is is this self-absorbed melodrama going on in her head; which would be fine if it didn't feel so circular.

Is her whole arc supposed to be about self-awareness (like, as opposed to actual growth)? Because I feel like, if that's the case, it's getting a little drawn out. 

Don't get me wrong, I think a character like that works well in a story like this; I just don't think she's interesting enough to be the central focus, when she's surrounded by so many more interesting character threads. I'm glad to see her getting pushed into a more supporting role in later episodes.

I didn't much like Alex to begin with either (which worked for me, because I'm not keen on hearing my name a lot when I watch telly) but she grew on me. And is it my imagination, or in the early episodes, were they filming Alex to make her look much taller than they do in later episodes?

I felt there was something really familiar about Red, but didn't pick her as Janeway until about three episodes in. Same thing with a couple of the other actors as well.

Alex said...

Okay, the ending was pretty great.

Our protagonist is alone, figuratively and literally, facing something that feels really truly threatening, and is therefore forced to move forward. 

I finally started to properly like her. It's just a shame it took so long to get to that point.

Melba said...

Hi Jo thanks for your comment, esp about my hayer.

WARNING - SPOILER COMMENTS FOLLOW ON ORANGE

I agree with you, the main character is the only one I relate to, and it's like I'm watching what I would be like if I was in that situation. To me that's the brilliance of it. Have this so-called ordinary, white-bread girl, everything's ok in her life and then her past catches up (or she wants to deal w/ her past) so she can move on to her New Life with Fiance.

Then she's in that situation, where all around her people have their own things happening, and it's all so volatile and unpredictable and she's so vulnerable. I reckon she's a good actress, usually I get irritated with women who play damsels in distress.

It IS the CHs surrounding her, Alex, who are the best and that's what makes it so good too. She's fairly innocuous, and deliberately so. She cries, she's pathetic, I didn't find her annoying, we were laughing uproariously for the first few eps. Then it went a little flat for one or two eps, then came good again. That final episode, yes she is on her own so you want to see what happens next.

I reckon there might be some surprises about her. Going back even further into her past. I reckon the whole demure thing might be a persona. Alex your comment about her not changing after SHU I think is relevant; I think she's incapable of self-awareness, incapable of seeing how she is, whereas everyone around her probably is more likely to be able to be rehabilitated. Maybe. Interesting to see what happens next... I can't wait either.

We haven't seen anything of her family yet apart from her brother? He's interesting too.

I LOVE the backstories, I think it's done well, and it's pretty seamless. The other CH backstories too are great. I love the casual way they treat the race-stuff; I love Crazy Eyes and how you are so scared of what she'll do and then she... does nothing. (So far.) And your heart breaks for her when she hears what main girl said about her, just after there'd been a small shift.

My favourite scene: I can't remember which episode but they are dancing, celebrating something. Someone makes a comment along the lines of 'uh-oh, remember what happened last time' and then there's Big Boo or whatever her name is - the one with the dog - starting her dance, then she grabs the little Asian woman and starts to grind her and then it just escalates and Crazy Eyes gets in there. I've seen a lot of stuff on tv, a lot of confronting stuff but in some way that scene has stuck in my head and it really disturbed me.

Alex said...

Melbs, I think it's interesting what you and Jo both said about relating to the main character. I get that there's a point in there about how we dehumanise people who are, for instance, in prison, by thinking of them as others - as not being like us (we literally get that speech from Kabuto). And Chapman is supposed to change that; to get us inside. Except for me, she doesn't. Her lifestyle is completely alien to me. To me, Chapman is the other. Not only due to her background, but like, her perspectives too. She kind of seems a little bit, I dunno, pain-in-the-arse-ish? Fucked-in-the-head-ish*? So, for me, she doesn't really work as that kind of vessel, I guess.**

But then you factor in her wild past, and I sort of wonder if that doesn't undercut what they were trying for anyway? It does establish her as already being different from the people she knows on the outside, which kind of takes away some on the impact when they start turning away from her.

I dunno; am I missing something?

Also, we have seen a little bit of Chapman's mum at visiting time.

**Honestly, I found I related more to Dia, the young latino girl who gets pregnant. At least I always felt I had a good grasp of her motives, rationale and thought-processes.

*I know that now it sounds like I'm calling you and Jo "others" who are pains in the arse and fucked in the head. Sorry, I don't mean that, it's just that I don't know how to put it so that it doesn't sound so fucked.

Alex said...

OITNB SPOILERS CONTINUE ...

whereas everyone around her probably is more likely to be able to be rehabilitated. Maybe.

Actually, can I just make a point about Doggit (Dogget? Doggert? Ah, fuckit).

I think, what makes that last scene really powerful isn't Doggit; it's Healey. That's ominous, foreboding shit; but I feel like they missed an opportunity at an extra layer.

Doggit really only gets established late in the game, and it's pretty well telegraphed that she's not so much a character as an obstacle to be overcome (look at how little depth she has).

They could have established Doggit and her tribe fully and then made it seem very compelling to the audience that she had to do what she did to save face.

Also, they could have put more emphasis on her as being someone who really did need to be in a proper psych ward; but, since the psych ward they had was a hell-hole, Chapman gets her out as a kindness, thereby unleashing a monster. It could have been a true moral dilemma. Maybe you could have even drawn parallels with the saviour shit Doggit raves on with. Instead, during that whole drama, the primary focus seems to be on Chapman's erratic conscience and love-triangle mess. Which is endless.

Either way, I think having some empathy for Doggit would have made the scene even more powerful and made the system seem even more monstrous.

Also, I think they could have put a little more emphasis on Chapman getting Doggit out of psych being connected to her own experiences in SHU. Maybe if they'd re-ordered things so that Doggit goes to psych, Chapman feels fine about it, then Chapman goes to SHU, then Chapman finds out psych is worse than SHU, and so then Chapman decides to get Doggit out. I dunno; maybe that's too simplistic. At least let her take a break from agaonizing over her regular shit to agonize over it properly.

Melba said...

Fuck. Um, I've had a big glass of wine and probably won't be coherent. I love these convos about movies and books!

In my comment I had something along the lines of you maybe not relating to Chapman (thanks for the name!) because you 'come from a different place' god that sounds so naif. But from what I know about you and things you've said, it does make sense that you wouldn't identify with a white-bread girl like her, and that there'd be others in the show you might relate to more. So I'm not surprised. And I might be fucking annoying to someone like you, in real life, I don't know. We might be miles apart if we passed each other in the street, but now we know each other, we know we aren't miles apart. Maybe just metres? It's ok, no offence taken. You didn't need to put the asterisk explanation but thanks for that anyway. I suppose it's about people living up to or down to their lives. There's no other way I can put it. When you don't have much to complain about, like me, when you're really lucky, or when you make things work, when things are pretty easy and good, you still find shit to whinge about. When things are fucking tough, you adjust, you know? I don't know what I'm saying now. I guess if I had to pick one of them to say who I related to the most, of course it's Chapman and if you met me/knew me, that would make sense. It's the whitebread world, even though my life isn't *that* MOR, it is compared to the other women in the prison.

This is why these shows have a range of characters - all the better to pull you in, my dear. The wider range of people, the bigger chance the audience will find someone to pick and follow, or root for, or root against. It's all about conflict.

I don't think Chapman's past is that wild. I hope they haven't included her relationship with Alex as a titillation only but I do think more that it's them aiming for a rounded character rather than a caricature. It fills her out a little more, and let's face it, it's important to the plot. If she hadn't been 'led astray' by Alex, she wouldn't have found herself in prison. But their relationship, to me it seems/seemed very real and loving, with real emotions. I wonder if that will feed in later; we may get more about Chapman.

About Doggit, I dunno. Wine won't let me think.

jo_blue said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jo_blue said...

Melba, I have always loved your hayer...just the way you can push it back, tie it up or whatever and it looks fab!

Hey Alex, that moment when she has to face herself, there is a moment after she gets out of SHU and is fighting with Alex who tells her "you are not a nice person" and for an instant you can see her turn that over in her mind, like she's thinking "I am...no wait, maybe I'm not". I've had that same moment (though not in prison and not with a lesbian ex) where all that I believed about myself seemed wrong because of what was happening around me. I think the whole series is about her finding her self-awareness, how she is forced to deal with people and situations that don't happen to "nice people like her" - at least that's what I understood she thinks of herself. And Alex (CH) is right about Chapman - she always plays the victim and doesn't take any responsibility for what's happened to her - I can relate to that too! I think that before Chapman ended up in prison, she was able to ignore her real self - it was good enough for her that she'd turned the corner and was leading a normal life. In prison, as in any tough situation, she will really find out who she is and what her limits are.

I loved the ending - she's been pushed to the brink and I'm sure it's something she told herself she could never do.

And her mum is a piece of work - now wonder Chapman's fucked up! I actually felt sorry for Chapman at that point!

I'm going to watch it again soon - see if Alex really is made out to be taller at the beginning.

jo_blue said...

I love these convo's too - have a glass of red at hand and will read and watch and comment some more tonight.

Alex, I recognised Janeway's voice right away - my past includes copious amounts of Star Trek watching!

Have just remembered my reaction to Doggit - it was a bit extreme - I can't stand her. Have wanted to throat punch her quite a few times and I thought Chapman was being very patient with her - I wouldn't have gotten her out of the psych ward. Doggit's annoying to other people, the way she pushes her religion onto others. She's just a righteous, two-faced, bully. I wasn't happy at all when Chapman agreed to be baptised and so glad she pulled out. People like Doggit are damn scary - they turn on you for the slightest infringement on their space and take things so personally. One mistake and you're done for. So I found the ending REALLY satisfying - I almost scared myself!

Alex said...

Melbs, glad you didn't take any of that the wrong way, and glad you're enjoying a nice tottle.

About Chapman's "wild" past; in the later episodes, they talk about flitting here there and everywhere, and that she knew her partner was smuggling drugs and that she enjoyed the excitement and adventure, so long as it wasn't her arse directly on the line. They talk about how she (due to food poisoning, I guess) had to run outside and take a shit in the middle of a village in Cambodia, or something. I'm pretty sure there were other little anecdotes. So, yeah, I feel like her time with Alex put some distance between her and her "normal life" group. And no, I don't think her relationship with Alex was about titillating the audience, I do think it's important to the story; I just wonder whether it makes it seem more "reasonable" to people who would otherwise relate to Chapman that her "normal life" group turns away from her? Since I don't relate to her very much I don't know. What do you and Jo think?

Jo, I think you summed up Chapman's character very nicely. But I also felt that wrapped up in all that was a sense of moral superiority (infallibility?) that was based of a highly-skewed/impractical/unrealistic view of the world. I had expected to see that start to chip away fairly quickly, but like you both have said, the whole facade seemed to have taken a huge amount of punishment before the cracks started to show. Maybe I was just impatient.

I too love these conversations about books and movies and such, and funnily, I think I'm starting to like this show more by talking about it.

Two quick side notes:

1) Anyone else get the intro music stuck in their head?

2) I love the normalised, realistic-bodied, non-erotic nudity. And I love that it's getting more common in American stuff again (like it was in the 70s). Now, can we get some serious male actors to get their dicks out in main-stream stuff please. Just so this doesn't start to look like a gender thing.

Alex said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex said...

Where were you during our Star Trek discussion Jo?

In what order would you rate the series and why?

***

Interesting what you say about Doggit. See, I agree with your assessment of her, and I thought it would have been more interesting if they'd given us a little bit about her to sympathise with. It would have given the whole thing an extra layer of tragedy.

But maybe the point was actually to get people to hate her enough that they wanted to brain her, and then get shocked by their own blood-lust, like you say.

Hmmm, maybe because I'm the type of person who has been in fights and has beaten people severely (and been beaten) that I didn't get the reaction I was supposed to.

Alex said...

Whoa, looks like I caught Melba's double-post bug there for a bit.

jo_blue said...

Alex,

There was a star trek convo? Damn, missed it. Depending on when it was, I may or may not have been picking myself up from the bottom of the barrel instead of reading fab blogs like this one.

Do you mean rate the star trek series?

I got the theme song stuck in my head early on and didn't like it, so ended up skipping it most of the time. I loved the Sopranos theme song though

Alex said...

Yeah, so Squib is on a mission to watch all of Star Trek in chronological order, and we were talking the good and bad points of each series (if I remember right). What's your thoughts?

I quite like the OITNB intro tune, but I've looked up the musician and am not liking most of what I'm finding.

I must get around to watching the Sopranos at some point.

I may or may not have been picking myself up from the bottom of the barrel

Um, hit a bit of a rough patch recently?

jo_blue said...

Re: rough patch, mostly in the past now, so all good. Have the occasional meltdown, but really, 'first world problems'.

RE: Star Trek, my all time favourite was TNG, with picard as captain. Took me a while to get used to Janeway as a captain. She always seemed too 'try-hard', like she had a point to make because she was a woman. Voyager didn't get interesting for me until Seven of Nine came along. Loved her character. So TNG followed by Voyager and then maybe Deep Space Nine, but I only watch that if there is nothing else on. I tried to watch the original series once, and kept on getting distracted by the bad special effects!
Cheers.

Alex said...

Squib said the same thing about the original series. Am I the only person who uses their imagination to compensate for old/low-budget shit. C'mon people, it's like watching a play.

At least tell me you liked Spock?

Incidentally, Squib also liked TNG, if memory serves.

I thought Voyager had really flat, uninteresting characters, except for the captain, seven and the doc.

I think Mr E described DS9 as the galactic-sized elephant turd in the room.

Melba said...

The music. No I can't even recall what it is. We skip it as well. Agree, Sopranos is great intro music. And True Blood intro credits and music - almost the best?

On Star Trek: I have nothing.

PS Squib, I meant to say something about your knee way back. That's a bugger. VITAMIN D!!! You'll be needing more of it over there.

Alex said...

Now that you've got a clear head, Melbs:

1) What was your reaction to Doggit and what went down at the end?

2) Being as you say, from the "white-bread" audience that identifies with Chapman; did you find the way her people on the outside treated her more reasonable the more you found out about her dodgy past?

Melba said...

Ok, Doggit, I thought she was a terrific character, really menacing and fucking scary. what went down at the end. Chapman knew she was on her own and either a) pulled it out of herself to do what she did or b) it was there from pretty early and she managed to push it down or keep it locked away either by tremendous will OR because her life had gone ok or a bit of both. If I was the writer, in the second season we'd see more of her past and see that while the first season held her up as 'so different to the others' we see that really she's just the same. That we ALL are just the same. Somehow I don't think that will happen. I think it will be just her in survival mode and it's come from deep within.

With your second question: I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at. I could see her fiance's side, as well as her side... I understood why her people reacted as they did however I didn't agree with it, for the most part I think. I see her as a reasonable person, she's not a bad person, just 'caught up'. She has flaws but she's not bad. So for her people to judge her, I don't think is reasonable. If you love someone and know them, you need to stick with them. I hope I do/would. I get the fiance reaction because that's a betrayal that is fresh (her with Alex in prison) and it's inside their intimate relationship. That's different, she betrayed him and he has reason to break it off. But everyone else, I don't think should be judging her. Yes, be 'disappointed' and 'don't condone' but people need you when they go to prison. I hope I'd stand by a friend in that case, I'm pretty sure I would, as long as it wasn't for something truly reprehensible, something I couldn't get past, that changed the way I thought about them.

Does this answer your question?

Also I can't for the life of me remember anything about Chapman's mother. I have to rewatch and probably will before season 2 is available.

Melba said...

PS I hope they flip it around to put forward to idea that shit can happen to anyone; there's such a fine line between inside of prison and outside (maybe); that a person's life can change in an instant, and that even the hardcore prisoners are human and real people. That it's not a black and white binary of good or bad. We are all both to varying degrees. But I don't think it'll go that way.

jo_blue said...

OK Alex, I don't mind Spock, but only because he's been a part of some of the TNG storylines.

To answer one of your questions before, i thought the way her fiance (Larry?) treated her was quite reasonable. He knew about her past and wanted her to just do the time...and then she full on betrayed him. I actually thought she was going to be better than that... Obviously I was wrong. I hope the writers do explore her past and character more so that we see that we have more in common than we all think.

squib said...

Alex, I don't think running has helped any. Fresh Meat is a comedy series about students house sharing, pretty funny

I like Picard so far as captains go and Data but some episodes are truly abysmal, especially when they play dress-ups on the holodeck

Melbs, I tried some Vit D in the form of cod liver oil tablets but they didn't make me feel zingy at all





Melba said...

I don't know if that's the stuff to take. I just know that VitD3 really helped with my creaking painful shoulder which I couldn't sleep on, had been bothering me for 18 months, and was radiating pain down to my forearm.

The zinginess is just a bonus extra. But I am happier than in past years and doing what I want to do, so not resentful. I can't say that wouldn't possibly be it (or a part of it.)

I know I'M A D-PUSHER!

Alex said...

Yeah, careful you don't end up incarcerated there, Pusher D.

Squib, until recently Melba was taking, what was it, 6000IU a day? So, no surprise that you're not getting any zing from a little bit of cod-liver. Melba, how have you been feeling since you dropped the dose? You still don't know what your calcium levels are, hey?

***

Sorry I flaked out yesterday. There was an ill wind blowing here, and I spent most of the day in a mucous-drenched, drug-induced coma. Fucking spring.

***
Hmmm, it seems I was the only one who was at all disappointed with Doggit as a character.

To try to clarify my other question: As you learned more about Chapman's past as a drug runner('s girlfriend), did you feel that you judged her PRESENT behaviour more harshly than when she was just a nice girl from the suburbs? I see that you've both mentioned her betrayal of fiance; but she only went to Alex after her breakdown in SHU. Did you not think that deserved some consideration?

***

On the subject of what we might see in the future; here's my guesses:

• Chapman hardens up considerably.
• Chapman takes a newbie under her wing.
• Chapman gets her sentence extended, and/or goes to maximum security.
• Prison bureaucracy becomes more of a factor.
• Main characters get bumped off. My money says Doggit, Red, Morello and Alex are prime candidates. Of course, it might also depend on which actors decide they want to leave the show.

No inkling of what's going to happen with Healey, Dia and her pregnancy, or Chapman's outside people. Melbs, Jo, any ideas you'd care to share?

Melba said...

I was taking 6000 a day, and no haven't noticed any difference *much* since I dropped the dose. I stopped for about 4 weeks completely, thought I felt a little stiffer in the mornings but now I'm back on 2000 a day all is good.

Don't know my calcium levels, will get them tested. I'm sure I would have had them done in the last blood tests, don't they routinely do them 'at my age'? All levels were normal. But come to think of it I have a slip to go somewhere else to get them done. Hmmmm. Will follow up.

Re Chapman's behaviour in prison, I don't feel I judged her at all. I could understand her fiance being upset and seeing it as betrayal - complete and utter - but I didn't say that I felt we saw the reasons and how it happened. I didn't blame her or judge her for that. Really it's all fiction so I just go with it and don't think about it too much. I'm not sure what you're getting at but I do feel you're getting at something. If this is the case, can you ask more directly? Maybe you are just curious... I don't know.

I think Chapman will get her sentence extended. Either Doggit dies or doesn't and comes back. Maybe Chapman will go to maximum and there'll be a whole cast of bigger badders there, but in the same way, they'll be humanised? Maybe a newbie. Also funnily because you don't relate to Chapman Alex, I don't care about Dia's storyline. At all. For me it's all about Chapman and her problems, everyone else is minor. And Crazy Eyes, I want to know more about her.

I don't reckon we'll get any more about the other characters, they'll develop a bit but we won't get them suddenly front centre. More people will die I reckon, I was a little shocked how that blonde-braid girl died so 'easily.' But ultimately, it's all about Chapman. Will be interesting to see what happens next.

Melba said...

Ah just remembered, the slip is for bone density test. So I reckon the calcium was normal but will get them to send me a copy...

Pretty sure that the calcium problem can occur when people take 10 000 plus a day. Which I never did anyway.

Alex said...

With the Vit-D, excess calcium is the only drawback I've read about thus far. So if that's not up, I'm guessing that whatever dose you are/were taking is fine. But if 2000IU works as well as 6000IU, I suppose it's better to err on the side of caution.

***

I'm not sure what you're getting at but I do feel you're getting at something. If this is the case, can you ask more directly?

Yes, I will have another go.

You said: I agree with you, the main character is the only one I relate to, and it's like I'm watching what I would be like if I was in that situation. To me that's the brilliance of it. Have this so-called ordinary, white-bread girl, everything's ok in her life and then her past catches up (or she wants to deal w/ her past) so she can move on to her New Life with Fiance.

Now, I assume that sentiment applies primarily to the beginning of the show. And, since I assume you've never been involved in heroine trafficking, I also assume that your feeling of familiarity with Chapman (described in the above paragraph) lessened as you saw more of that side of her revealed.

Am I right in that assumption, and if so, how did it change the way you saw Chapman's behaviour in prison? Or did it?

I'm sure there are hundreds of movies and books where this is a theme that I could draw comparisons from, but at the moment, the only one that comes to me is Chasing Amy. If you haven't seen it, it's about this lad, who meets a lass, whom he feels is perfect for him. However, as he learns more and more about her past, his view of her in the present shifts, and he perceives a gap between them that grows bigger and bigger until the relationship is unworkable.

Actually, to make a real world comparison:

You said: We might be miles apart if we passed each other in the street, but now we know each other, we know we aren't miles apart. Maybe just metres?

That's probably true. As we are right now, there probably isn't that much difference between us. However, I've done some pretty reprehensible things in my past. If I was to go into detail about them (which I have no desire to do) maybe you might perceive a growth in that distance between us. Maybe, you might start to think of me in the present (that person who really isn't that far from you) as a fundamentally bad person, because of the weight of the things that I did in the past.

So, basically, as a person who never felt any particular connection to Chapman; I'm asking you, a person who did feel a connection, if you experienced any of that kind of shift in your feelings over the course of the show?

You see where I'm coming from now, right?

Alex said...

Yes, "heroine" trafficking. That most nefarious of black market activities.

Melba said...

Hah, heroine trading. All those Disney princesses, traded on VHS.

Yes I get you now, and I wondered if that's what was in your mind.

Because Chapman is fictional, I think I excuse her that past behaviour. It doesn't really matter or count to me, because it's not real. It would be different, say, if I found out something about a person I know or talk to that was on my list of reprehensible things (which I haven't fully listed.) Heroin trafficking, maybe strangely, probably *wouldn't* make me not want to talk to someone but I would think differently about them, you couldn't help there being a shift with new information. We've all made mistakes and behaved badly I'm sure, but there's bad and then there's Bad. And what's my Bad might not be yours, or vice versa.

Don't you think?

squib said...

these cod liver capsules have 5mcg of D3... whatever that is

Alex said...

The Canadian govt (whom I am linking to because it was the first thing I found tonight), gives a conversion rate of 40IU per mcg(μg) of VitD (I assume, in the form of cholecalciferol).

So, if my maths is not incorrect, your 5mcg tablets contain about 200IU of VD. Meaning, you'd have to pop around 30 pills a day to be getting the "zing" Melbs was getting.

The Canucks also give the upper limit for females over 9 as 4000IU (note: I don't know if I've seen two government websites that are consistent on this).

Vitamin dosage conversions
Vitamin recommended daily intake

***

You're right Melbs; we all have different standards when judging others. A lot of it probably depends on what we've done ourselves. I guess, it leads to us all carrying around bits of our pasts that we want to keep hidden, because we don't know who's going to be turned off by them. Or maybe just some of us do.

***

I'm sure there are a few feminists out there that could argue Disney princesses are worse than heroin in the damage they do to society.

And as a quick side note to the spelling/grammar SNAFU: How would you pluralise Alex? Both Alexs & Alexes just look wrong to me.

Melba said...

Thanks for doing the maths on the VitD Alex. It's almost a full time job around here!

I'm sure you're right about Disney princess haters - they are pretty insidious and filled with bullshit messages (the princesses, not the haters)

and on the plural grammar question, it has to be Alexes, even though it looks wrong. But think box > boxes. Has to? Also anything else is wrong.

Melba said...

And I think it's more than okay to choose what you share with people and what you don't. Some people are just really out there and others aren't. it's all ok, it's about your (meaning our) level of comfort, not other people's (the person to whom the 'disclosure' might be).

jo_blue said...

Hi people, work started again this week, hence my having to stay away from the ipad these past few days, but I've caught up and want to comment on what you said Alex, about judging people on their past behaviour. I didn't think I judged Chapman either because I didn't really think that she was a bad person. She made questionable choices, but inherently she wasn't bad. And i agree with Melba when she says there's bad and then there's BAD. i would like to think that I'd take people as they present themselves now but if the past behaviour was on my list of what I thought was really bad, then I'm not sure. I think in the past five or so years, I've become less judgmental and more open minded and that alone has meant that I can accept the circumstances of a much wider range of people.

I hope that answers your question.

Alex said...

It does indeed Jo. Thank you.

I would be interested to know what you two (and others) had on your BAD list.

I don't think I have a BAD list. I don't have it that worked out.

Melba said...

I've come back to answer m_m's post.

You worked in DC during THAT shutdown? The Lewinsky-Clinton shutdown. Is there anything you can tell us????

Also am emailing you about coffee right now.

PS Alex, on my BAD list - I don't have a list as such either but I think there would be certain things that would make my BAD list. I kind of don't want to be specific because it might attract freaks in a google search. But things to do with children is probably number 1.

Notebook Tips said...

Day before yesterday I chopped off my hair. It had grown very long, down my back, and while I kind of liked the wild woman effect a side ponytail gave me, when I got up Saturday morning with what other people call bed hair and I call playdough hair, I realised the ends were just so ratty and all uneven (because I have this thing, you see, where I cut my own hair) and so I went into the bathroom and pulled it forwards and chopped it off on either side. So it's just past my shoulders, or on them, a long bob and a bit hacked at the back.

Precision M6400 DVD Burner

Alex said...

Yes M_M, I would love to hear your stories and insights as well.

Melbs, I will try to say this in a non-search-friendly manner: Years (decades?) ago there was an ad on the telly that I thought was very affective. Very simply, it displayed two photos and a phone number, and a voice over said "This is a photo of a child who's been s*x**ly ab*s*d, and this is a photo of a man who's s*x**ly ab*s*d children. It's easy to feel sorry for one and hate the other, until you realise they're the same person. Help break the circle."

Sometimes I hate the monsters so much that I want to see them all dead, and sometimes I wonder -- if they can be made, can they be unmade? Do any of them deserve that chance? Are they worth the risk? Or are they like a cancer that has to just be cut away? Where do you draw the line? And who decides? Like I say, I haven't got it all figured out.

Speaking of monsters and children, I see there's a thing on Malala Yousafzai on Foreign Correspondent tonight. And she's doing a book promotion tour. Think I might snatch up a copy.

Notebook Tips, that's the most interesting spamming method I've seen in quite a while.